- The Growth Guide
- Overcome Imposter Syndrome and the Power of Magic Words
Overcome Imposter Syndrome and the Power of Magic Words
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Welcome to the Club, Growth Guiders.
You may not know you're a member, but odds are you’re a member of the Imposter Syndrome Club.
30% of high-achievers deal with it
70% of adults experience it at some point
You know the feeling, even if you don't know the name.
You rack up accomplishments, but inside you're asking:
Am I a fraud
Am I cut out for this
When will they find out
How am I fooling everyone
Am I really good enough for this
That, my friends, is the good old Imposter Syndrome rearing it’s ugly head.
Imposter syndrome is the nagging belief you're pulling a fast one, despite a heap of evidence of your abilities.
Let's say you've just clocked an ultra-marathon, but you can't shake the thought that you've bamboozled everyone into thinking you're a runner. That's Imposter Syndrome and I’ve done this one!
My friend Brad Barrett is the co-founder and host of Choose FI, one of the highest-impact podcasts in the world, and every day, he has an I’m not good enough or I’m not doing enough thought run through his head.
It also strikes close to home.
Objectively, I've achieved a lot of wins:
Wrote a 1st novel
Launched a Podcast
Achieved a high net worth
And, Every Single Day, I feel like a Fraud.
Spot the Signs
Imposter Syndrome can show itself in many ways:
Fear of failure
Luck over ability
Do you burn the midnight oil to cover up your perceived inadequacies?
Maybe you think if you work twice as hard, nobody will catch on that you're an imposter.
Fear of Failure
You’re always on edge thinking you’ll drop the ball and everyone will see you for the fraud you are.
When people compliment your work, you bat it away, thinking they're just being nice.
You can’t accept compliments, because you can’t acknowledge you’re capable.
Luck over ability
You believe you’re where you are solely because of luck.
You can’t acknowledge skills and hard work allowed you to achieve what you have.
You write off your achievements as a fluke or suggest anyone could have done what you did.
Every one of these applies to me.
The Many Faces of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome changes its mask to fit the situation. It can show up as the:
You feel you need to know everything before you start a project and constantly look for new certifications or training to improve your skills.
You judge your competence based on ease and speed as opposed to your efforts.
If you take a long time to master something, you feel shame.
You feel you must accomplish tasks on your own, and if you need to ask for help, you think it proves you’re a fraud.
You push yourself to work harder than everyone else to prove you’re not an imposter.
You’re the first in, last out and always at work.
You set incredibly high goals, then beat yourself up when you don't achieve them.
For example, you’ll be devastated by a 98% on a test because it wasn't perfect.
The Root of the Problem
Imposter Syndrome is often a symptom of deeper-rooted issues:
Changes in life circumstances
People with perfectionist tendencies set unreasonably high standards for themselves, and when they don't meet those standards, they begin to feel like frauds.
The constant pursuit of perfection leads to Imposter Syndrome.
Some families emphasize achievements, creating an environment where success becomes the norm, and anything less feels like failure.
For instance, growing up in a family where both older siblings were straight-A students, you might feel inadequate if you bring home a B, regardless of your effort.
Imposter Syndrome can be fueled by societal expectations or stereotypes about competence and success.
For example, women in male-dominated fields or first-generation professionals might feel they don’t belong or aren't capable enough.
Many adults dealing with Imposter Syndrome had experiences in childhood that emphasized their mistakes or failures over their successes.
An absent word of praise from a parent, like in my case, can lead to a lifetime of self-doubt.
Certain personality traits, such as being highly self-critical, can predispose individuals to Imposter Syndrome.
Self-critical individuals often scrutinize their own actions and abilities, leading to feelings of inadequacy or fraudulence.
High-stakes, competitive environments often breed Imposter Syndrome.
Pressure to perform, cutthroat competition, and the constant need to prove one's worth can cause individuals to doubt their abilities and accomplishments.
Changes in Life Circumstances
Major life changes like starting a new job, graduating from college, or even receiving a promotion can spark Imposter Syndrome.
The unfamiliarity and uncertainty that come with such changes can lead to self-doubt and fear of being exposed as an imposter.
Top 10 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
You aren’t alone.
I repeat you aren’t alone.
The first step to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to recognize and name it.
Call it out when you see it, and remind yourself it's a universal experience. Everyone, at some point, feels like they're faking it.
Talk About It
No one should suffer in silence.
Sharing your feelings can be therapeutic.
Talking to friends or mentors about your self-doubts helps normalize them and you might find that many of your peers feel the same way.
Reframe Your Mind
Practice reframing your thoughts.
Negative self-talk feeds Imposter Syndrome.
Instead of saying, I lucked out, say, I worked hard for this.
Small changes in how you talk to yourself can lead to a big shift in how you feel.
Embrace the Journey
Instead of focusing on being an expert, shift your focus to becoming a lifelong learner.
This mindset can help reduce the fear of being exposed as an imposter and increase your comfort with growth and development.
Celebrate Your Success
Keep a record of your achievements and revisit them regularly.
Use this success journal as a tangible reminder of your capabilities when Imposter Syndrome strikes.
Ask Yourself if They’re Competent
We often think people will find out we’re a fraud.
You need to ask yourself whether the people who are going to find you out are competent.
If the people you work for are intelligent, competent and capable then they would have found you out already.
That’s the key.
They haven’t found you out.
They haven’t found you out, because you’re capable.
Intelligent, competent and capable people have found you to be competent so you need to feel the same way too.
Assess the Evidence
It’s time for a simple breakdown.
On one section of the page, I want you to list the Evidence you’re inadequate.
And, on the other section, I want you to list the Evidence you’re competent.
Writing your list out and reviewing it after time has passed can help bring perspective.
Find a Mentor
A mentor can provide reassurance, share their own experiences with Imposter Syndrome, and offer perspective.
Their feedback can help validate your abilities and achievements.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and mindfulness activities like meditation or yoga can help maintain a positive mood and reduce feelings of Imposter Syndrome.
If Imposter Syndrome is causing significant stress or hindering your performance, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in managing Imposter Syndrome.
Above all, don’t let imposter syndrome get in your way.
Even feeling imposter syndrome every day of my life, I simply push through.
In my mind, this is what Steven Pressfield often refers to as the Resistance, and we can’t let the resistance get in our way.
Positively, you’ll often get imposter syndrome because you’re challenging your comfort zone, which is where you want to be to succeed in life.
Remember, the imposter syndrome doesn’t define you. What defines you is:
How you show up
The actions you take
How you help other people
The relationships in your lives
If I let imposter syndrome stop me from acting, I wouldn’t have the life I have today.
Is imposter syndrome getting in your way?
If so, which of these techniques can help you the post.
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